More staying visitors boost Bath’s economy – but day-tripper spending remains flat

November 4, 2019

The value of tourism to Bath and North East Somerset’s economy has increased to almost half a billion pounds over the past two years, according to new figures.

But while efforts to attract more staying visitors – rather than day trippers – appear to be paying off, one in four tourists to the area still come and go within a few hours. 

This is continuing to put pressure on Bath’s World Heritage tourist attractions and the city’s infrastructure – resulting in civic leaders urging the tourist industry to become more sustainable.

The latest Visitor Impact Report commissioned by Visit Bath, the area’s destination marketing organisation, reveals the value of tourism to Bath and North East Somerset rose by just over 9% to £470m between 2016 – the last time figures were gathered in this way – and last year.

The survey carried out by Exeter-based The South West Research Company also shows that an estimated 6.25m people visited the district in 2018.

While 1.182m stayed at least one night in the area – and a third of these were international visitors – around 80% (just over 5m) only came for the day. 

The survey shows at around half of the staying visitors opted for serviced accommodation such as hotels or B&Bs – delivering a welcome boost to Bath’s hotel sector – while around a third stayed with family or friends. The survey found that the spend of staying guests was more than £266.5m – around £225 each.

This contrasts sharply with the contribution from the 5m day visitors, who spent just over £191m – around £38 a head. 

Visit Bath interim CEO Kathryn Davis said: “Compared to the last data set produced for 2016, we have seen growth in both the volume and spend of staying visitors. While the volume of day visitors has also grown, the average spend per visit remains relatively similar to 2016.”

Bath & North East Somerset Council leader Dine Romero said while tourism was a vital part of the local economy, it needed to start addressing issues around sustainability.

“I’m pleased to hear that our beautiful city and its surrounding towns, villages and countryside remain an attractive destination for so many people,” she said.

“The strength of our visitor economy shows the confidence people have in our city and the wider area, which has to be good news for business owners and employees.

“However, looking to the future we must continue to develop more sustainable tourism and make sure the long-term interests of the city and its residents are also protected.”  

Figures from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) for 2018 were released earlier this year, showing that Bath was the 11th most visited town or city in the UK, up from 12th most visited in 2017.


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